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Sewickley Academy girls welcome new lacrosse coach, section

| Monday, April 10, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Sewickley Academy's girls lacrosse team has a new head coach and a new section.

The Panthers hope for a new finish to the season, too.

Kaska Komosinski took over as head coach of the program. A former Mt. Lebanon and American University standout goaltender, Komosinski hopes to restore a winning tradition to the team, which finished 2-12 last year.

“Things are going really well. It's definitely a transitional period for the team. We're totally revamping the culture and mentality of the program. I graduated from Mt. Lebanon in 2008 and Sewickley Academy was a team we always faced in the WPIAL semifinals, and they were always tough,” she said. “Over time, that hasn't been the direction of the team. We want to instill some confidence in these players and take advantage of their athleticism so that we can get the program back on track.”

Assistant coaches Gary Neft, Missy Sunseri and Chelsea Cameron bring many years of high-level lacrosse experience, as well.

“We have one of the strongest coaching staffs in Western Pa., hands down. The girls see the value in that, which is great. We're utilizing all the resources we have,” Komosinski said. “We had fall strength and conditioning sessions, in addition to getting outside once a week to play. We joined a winter league, too. The girls have bene very involved with this sport since fall.

“It definitely took a little bit of time getting to know the girls and getting to know about the past and what ways they wanted to make positive changes. Opening up those lines of communication and building up the confidence of the players has been important. We're allowing them to understand better the potential they have. In the past, I think a lot of them underestimated themselves.”

Up front, Katie Hughes, Antoinette Heil, Natalie Wei and Morgan Recker have seen time on the attack. Lydia Elset, Sydney Larsen and Grace Guerin, an all-section pick last year, are three of the team's midfielders. Hailey Fox, Katie Jones, Emily Ward and Lucinda Gillespie are on defense, while Jill Pollon is the goaltender.

“The team is doing so well and adapting to change rapidly,” Komosinski said. “I think that'll contribute to success this season.”

The Panthers were 1-2 through their first three games — all section battles. They fell to Seneca Valley (15-11) and North Hills (13-11) and beat Shaler (9-8). Butler, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland are the other three teams in Section 3-3A with Sewickley Academy.

“When we're playing really well, everyone is communicating and they are operating as a unit and a team. In the past, it could get very individualized. The individuals who performed very well felt a lot of pressure. Now, there's trust among them that, if one person makes a mistake, their teammates will back them up. Trust is a big piece of the puzzle,” Komosinski said. “The progress has been good. They are smart girls and make changes very quickly. If they don't understand something, they ask, which is great. There is a lot of positive change here, but we need to continue moving forward. We're excited it's so early in the season. There are a lot more opportunities left to compete.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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